Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The 'Bluestone' post

After a mammoth 5.5 hour drive, we got back home from our week at Bluestone Wales on Monday evening. It was our second visit, and I have to say that it was the best holiday we have had as a family to date (see my recent "summer holidays with small kids" post on Natural Mamas Blog for context!) 

The weather was superb for the first half of the week, which undoubtedly helped a great deal, but we were also impressed with some improvements at Bluestone as well as the same friendly service we experienced last year. It's not a cheap holiday - especially at peak time - but for beautiful and safe surroundings, good facilities and a great base for exploring further afield, we thought it was close to perfect. We got to spend a whole week relaxing and playing together, eating out and enjoying one another's company. That's what our 'holiday' was all about this year.  

For those who'd like the particulars...

Home from home
We stayed in a Ramsey lodge which My Boy calls a "crazy upside-down house" with the bedrooms and 2 ensuite bathrooms downstairs and living-quarters upstairs. 

The lodges are well stocked - we even had our essential grocery shopping delivered and put away for us before we arrived - and have almost everything you need. For me, it would be a significant improvement to have wifi access. Currently wifi is available in a couple of areas around the resort, but at those places we were generally doing things with the children and also the connection was really slow so webpages and Apps were timing out before loading - in an ideal world, I'd have preferred to be online in the comfort of my lodge when the kids were in bed. Incidentally I had no 3G reception on O2 at all during the entire week and D had just a little 3G coverage on the 3 network but our mobile phone signals were fine.

(I'd also have loved our own laundry facilities as I'm used to staying in a villa and bringing our clothes home clean and ready to put away.)
View from the sitting room - that's our buggy! 
We hired a golf buggy to get around the small but hilly resort. If the children were older we'd have taken the healthier alternative and used bikes or walked, but I definitely think a buggy is wise for families with small children or elderly visitors - getting around is an adventure not a chore with a buggy, plus it's fairly inevitable that it'll rain at some point during a stay in South West Wales so a roof is always handy :) 

There is plenty to do on-site including a tropical Blue Lagoon swimming complex, Adventure Centre, Well Spa, various eateries and lots of bookable activities for all ages so there really is something for everyone - this year there are also baby and toddler sensory activities, something that we weren't aware of last year.  We didn't book much this year, and sadly the Mini Bash we had booked was... erm..... *tries to be diplomatic* disappointing. (I will be providing detailed feedback on that to Bluestone, so hopefully that will be another thing to improve as they really do seem to listen to their visitors.)

If you're looking for a CentreParcs-type holiday where you don't leave the resort, this may not be the holiday for you. Not just because Bluestone is much more compact and has a small village vibe that you may not want to be confined to for a longer stay, but actually staying on-site would be to miss out on the great location and local attractions.

As well as being surrounded by beautiful countryside, Bluestone is situated close to some fabulous beaches and on Wednesday we returned to Tenby. We went there last year and it rained but it couldn't have been more different.  

(There really are only 5 toes on that foot,
 but I've counted them weekly for 5 years to be sure!) 
My Mum joined us for our day at the beach followed by a meal at Bluestone in the evening - fish & chips in the Tafarn pub - seriously yum!
We also spent a day at Folly Farm - a fabulous place to go with (or without!) children and really needs more than a day to enjoy it all, or someone to sit in the play areas with the kids while the adults look around everything else - we missed out on half of the animals including the giraffes because the little ones were too tired. It's worth noting that you can get a "boomerang pass" before you leave for a half price return visit within 7 days. If you have an iPhone, there is also a free Folly Farm App but we didn't know this until we got there - of course there was no wifi (are you feeling my frustration on this topic yet?!?!) and as this part of Wales seems to have no 3G coverage at all,  this information was no use to us.
Go-karting at Folly Farm
The small play area in Bluestone 'village centre' was surprisingly the most popular place for our children  and fortunately for us, it was situated between the coffee shop and the pub and there were plenty of benches there, so we even managed to get some 'grown-up' conversations - albeit interrupted ones - over a hot or cold drink (... and of course some knitting!)
Bluestone is still in it's infancy having opened just a few years ago - there were more lodges being built while we were there, and the trees which are now just saplings will completely change the landscape over the coming years, offering much more privacy to the lodges. Based on the small but positive changes since our last visit (better opening times at the Blue Lagoon, a welcome "fete" on the change-over days, live music in the village square, bigger coffee shop and improved shopping facilities to name a few) I'm sure there will be further improvements to come. I really hope we are able to visit again in a few years to see how they are getting on. 


  1. wow what a busy time you had. looks like great fun though (even without wi-fi).
    Happy Littlies + good weather = Happy Holidays in my book. Just praying after a shockingly bad holiday last year (bad weather + unhappy Littlies = di-as-ter!) that we get some good weather on our holibobs!!


  2. Looks like you all had a fab time! As frustrating as lack of wi-fi may be, the positive side may be that you can get technology free(ish) time with the family.
    Kier x

  3. I do love to read about people having a wonderful time visiting my little corner of Wales! Although it's been a long time since I last visited Folly Farm - they didn't have gokarts then I don't think. The highlight of my trip there was milking a cow!

  4. What a beautiful place to visit! Lovely and lush. We're going camping one night up north w/my bro and sil. Should be fun and a first time experience for my daughters and city boy hub.

  5. Looks like you had an amazing time. I love your pictures,reflecting how much lil ones having fun.We are also looking for a place to go for a few days,but closer to home.Any particular places you might suggest?

  6. Thanks for your lovely comments - it was a lovely week.

    @Isil - we haven't been to many places but have enjoyed a holiday at Centre Parks in Longleat which is a couple of hours from you and hear lots of wonderful feedback on Sandy Balls in Hampshire which has camping or lodges. That's on my list of places to go based on many friends' feedback.

    @Kepanie - I hope you post pictures! Have a lovely trip.

  7. Looks like a wonderful holiday, love your photos :)

  8. I've been trying to convince DH to take us to bluestone. We've gone to centreparcs the last couple of years and loved it so I think we should try bluestone as it looks similar. Glad you had a good time

  9. It sounds like you had a great time with your family. Love the pics. Everything is so green. lol Thanks for sharing.


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